[By Alyson Linke]

Raise your hand if you find the idea of networking absolutely terrifying. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who feels at ease talking to perfect strangers about your exaggerated skill set, it is, for many, a necessary evil. Thankfully, the technological advent of LinkedIn makes it not only easier to network, but more enjoyable and streamlined as well.

As with any platform, how you use it will depend on your focus and what you want to get out of it. People often fall into the habit of only using LinkedIn to find a job or connect with potential employers. However, even if you’re not actively searching for a job, LinkedIn is an excellent resource to research industry trends and keep yourself in the know. To increase your industry clout, consider sharing relevant articles that you find interesting or even posting your own content. LinkedIn’s blogging feature is a great way to share your own work for maximum exposure amongst your colleagues and industry heavyweights.

When it comes to doing the legwork of making connections, LinkedIn’s search feature can appear to be off-putting as anyone you search for can see that you’ve browsed their page. If you feel strange or creepy stalking people, don’t let that deter you. On the contrary, potential employers like to see that you’ve been doing your due diligence and researching the company and its personnel. When it comes to simply reaching out and forging connections with other industry professionals, you will be pleasantly surprised at how responsive people are and how genuinely interested they are in making connections with young professionals.

With regards to your own page, this is your chance to shine while keeping in mind the finite laws of ABCA (Accuracy, Brevity, Clarity and Audience). Steer clear of using jargon and buzzwords, and instead do as your grade-12 English teacher taught you: show, don’t tell. Instead of saying you’re creative, passionate or driven, give examples that show how and why. Transparency, openness and credibility are all cornerstones for success, especially in the world of PR.

In short, if you don’t have a LinkedIn page, sign up. If you have one but don’t use it, start. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second-best time is right now.

(Photo by PeteLinforth via Pixabay)